The Importance of Contributing to a Savings Fund

On a normal weekend, you do your regular chores: check on the garden, cook meals for the week, mow the lawn and play with your kids. By Sunday night, your back is killing you. By Monday morning, you’re in so much pain you can’t get out of bed, let alone go to work. Your run-of-the-mill weekend stressed your back so much that you need medical care and several days off. You have no idea how you’re going to keep up with your bills – you’re out of sick time and you don’t have extra money to spare. This is exactly the sort of unexpected medical problem that a savings account could solve.

4 Reasons to Contribute to a Savings Fund

Money definitely won’t solve all of your problems, but the padding that a savings account can give you will certainly solve some of them. Here are four reasons to save money:

  1. You’ll have peace of mind: If you’ve ever laid in bed at night, unable to sleep because you’re stressed about upcoming bills, you know what even a little extra money can do for your peace of mind. Even if you don’t dip into your savings account for monthly bills, simply knowing it’s there as a backup will ease your stress.
  2. You’ll have options: While you may not touch your savings for several months or years, it does give you options should you want to make a major life change. If your job is impacting your health and you want to quit, having several months of expenses saved can give you the flexibility to do that. If your neighborhood is becoming unsafe, you can start looking for a new apartment or house somewhere else.
  3. You’ll save more (and more): The more money you save and the more frequently you save, the easier it is to continue saving. You’ll see your savings build up, which will encourage you to save even more. It will also become a habit instead of something you force yourself to do.
  4. Your money can work for you: By carefully choosing the accounts where you put your money, you can earn as your money sits. Some regular bank savings accounts let you earn interest on the money in your account. Specialty accounts, like a retirement 401(k), will give you options for investing in stocks.

You may not have enough in savings to cover all of the many things that could cost money, but having that little extra wiggle room will give you more control over your circumstances.

Types of Savings Accounts

While you may think of a savings account as simply a place to keep the money you don’t plan on spending soon, there’s a lot more to them. Different accounts offer different perks, like gaining interest, stock investment opportunities and employer contributions. Here are a few types of savings accounts to consider opening:

  • Bank Savings Account: This is the most basic type of savings account. It’s simply a place to hold your money away from your checking account. There may be limits to what you can withdrawal and requirements for how much needs to be deposited.
  • Emergency Savings Fund: If you create an emergency savings account, a good starting goal is to save three months of expenses. If you’re injured and can’t work or if you lose your job, you’ll know your expenses are taken care of for at least a few weeks. From there, continue adding money to your emergency fund until you have six months or more of savings.
  • Health Spending Account: If your employer offers a health spending account, you can deposit money (or it can be automatically deposited) before being taxed. Then, if you have to pay out-of-pocket for medical costs, you’ll be paying with tax-free money. You may also be able to earn interest on your money as it sits in the account.
  • Retirement Savings Account: There are a few different types of retirement savings accounts, like a 401(k) or a Roth IRA. These accounts let you invest your money in the stock market as you save for retirement. According to the Investopedia link referenced above, you can earn up to 8% per year on average. Even better is that you won’t have to pay taxes on those extra earnings. Talk to your job’s HR department – some companies will match what you contribute up to a certain amount.

Spend some time comparing the different requirements and features of savings accounts. Your goal should be to differentiate the accounts you invest your money in.

Saving When You Don’t Have Extra Money

While saving is great for accumulating money, of course, it’s also good to get into the habit of saving. You may not have a lot of extra money right now, but even $5 per week is enough to make the act of saving a habit. As you earn more money, you’ll naturally start to put more away because you’re already in the habit of saving a little extra each week. You may also start to look for more ways to save as your growing savings account acts as a motivator.

Think about the different ways you can cut back on your current expenses to save a little extra each week. Are there any essential items that you can buy at a discounted rate by buying in bulk or switching brands? Are there any non-essentials you can live without or cut back on? Keep a spending journal for a month. Write down everything you spend money on and how much you spend, then go over it to see if there are ways to cut back.

Final Thoughts

When deciding which savings accounts are right for you, don’t hesitate to speak with a professional and ask questions. At your bank, a representative will be able to sit down with you to explain your options. If you’re taking advantage of an employer-sponsored savings plan, which can offer a lot of tax breaks, discuss your options with the HR department.

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Getting the Most Out of Your Company’s Work Portal

Corporate portals can serve as useful tools for aggregating links and information for employees. It makes perfect sense to gather relevant news, content and external links in one convenient location. This way, users only have to make one stop to get whatever they need—and are empowered to answer their own questions rather than having to go through HR or leadership teams for intel.

But all too often, web portals go underutilized by employees after their orientation period. Sure, users may check out the portal during their first few days of onboarding—and perhaps occasionally thereafter for specific queries. In general, however, engagement tends to diminish over time.

The end result? When corporate portals fall by the wayside, they fall short of providing value to users and companies as a whole. Here’s a guide to getting the most out of your company’s work portal.

Define Goals for Your Web Portal

Think about what you want your corporate portal to accomplish. What does the optimal user experience (UX) look and feel like? What features and controls must employees be able to access within this hub? What are the potential benefits to both end users and the organization as a whole?

According to Techopedia, web portals often contain features like “data access, personal content, transactions, security, published content and search.” Of course, no two hubs are exactly the same—appearance and UX depend on the organization and its goals. Companies are increasingly giving employees the opportunity to customize their portal to fit their preferences. The final product will also depend on which applications you make available for integration.

Start by defining goals. First, broadly. Then drill down and get more specific. What do you want your portal to accomplish? How often do you want users to visit it? What degree of personalization must your portal offer to users? Which devices will support access? Only once you have these guiding ideas in mind can you put together a genuinely useful product.

Avoid treating it as a catch-all and instead design it with intentionality.

Embed Data Analytics for Easy Access

Work portals are increasingly becoming a site for embedded analytics like ThoughtSpot as companies aim to monetize their stored data by making insights more accessible to all. The goal here is giving employees—even those without a background in data—direct access to the business intelligence tools and interactive charts they need to make informed decisions.

Monetizing stored data has become a major priority for businesses looking to gain the competitive edge. One way to monetize data is to allow users to ask questions and get answers instantly without having to wait for static reports. Speedy and informed decisions across the board drive better business outcomes. So, embedding search-driven analytics, custom charts and entire dashboards directly into portals is a solid first step toward data monetization.

Create a Personalized, Engaging Experience

It’s worth considering whether your company is giving people a genuine reason to visit your portal. As Society for Human Resource Management points out, users inevitably tend to compare corporate portals to their favorite websites—like Amazon and social media platforms.

What lessons can we glean from these popular sites? People today value personalized experiences, advanced search options and engaging features. If your portal misses the mark in any of these areas, employees will want to use it less. Offer opportunities for customization so users can create an environment and workflow that suits their preferences. This will go a long way in incentivizing employees to continually engage with your portal.

Getting the most out of your company’s work portal depends on allowing employees to customize it to their liking, and using it to provide useful tools like data analytics.

How Can Technology Improve Event Management Efficiency

Events, conferences, and meetings are becoming increasingly detailed experiences. And event managers are searching for modern solutions that will help them to keep up with the heightened expectations of attendees. They’re also finding new technologies that can help them overcome the ever-present issues of doing more work while being time-pressed and having a low-budget.

As such, event planners are using more and more innovative event management technologies to assist them in their work, and for a good reason. According to studies, event technology adoption can increase productivity by 27%, increase attendance by 20% and decrease event costs by as much as 30%.

All these innovations changed the landscape in which the industry leaders are inundated by new technologies and products on a day-to-day basis. Everyone is wondering where technology is going next and which investment will create the most ROI.

In this article, we will explain about new and old event technologies that will certainly have an impact on attendees and industry professionals alike.

Using big data

In the last few years, big data has become a hot topic in discussions. Gathering and interpreting huge amounts of information was never easier. But big data is most useful when used in the right way.

For instance, event managers can utilize Google Analytics to find out which online campaigns were most successful for influencing registrations or which were most discussed on social media.

There are also innovative options of tracking movements of attendees through Wi-Fi, iBeacons, GPS or low-energy Bluetooth to see which events they’re visiting. Or, event managers can send out surveys or second-screen solutions to find out the feelings and actions of attendees before, during and after the event. There also available platforms for acquiring and analyzing real-time data to see in which events are attendees and sponsors most interested.

Managing Attendees

Marking late arrivals and managing visitors time of arrival was never easier. New technologies can improve the management of attendees, their time of arrival, entry points and time of leaving the event.

Innovative visitor management app allows you to receive live notifications about your visitor’s time of arrival. These notifications include useful information such as the visitors’ contact details and photo, while other notifications, either through an Email or SMS, give you the ability to sign out visitor once they leave the event. Its benefits are obvious – visitors get to enjoy the reduced wait time and fast and efficient greeting on arrival.

Some of these apps even include VIP and Security Alerts. You get to highlight certain individuals as VIP’s and receive notifications about their arrival in real time. With these new technologies, it becomes much easier to see who is on site and when. Your staff will have an easier time to administer visitors in a more efficient manner.

Mapping Projections

Projections mapping is about creating an augmented reality experience through using projectors. While usual projectors cast pictures on flat screens, with projection mapping you have the option of projecting light onto any surface imaginable and turn everyday building and structures into 3D interactive displays.

This technology enables event managers to add beautiful transformational design elements into any space they would like. From stages to cars to landmarks, this innovative visual technology creates an efficient and cost-effective way to create optical illusions in any event location possible.

Since there are no clear boundaries of what you can do with project mapping, event managers are able to stretch their imagination and create inventive modern displays. Whether it’s a social media wall, a map of convention booths or an interactive art display, the technology is flexible enough to create a variety of displays – that can be used everywhere, from meeting and conferences to concerts and parties.

Increased Networking Capabilities

Social media can be applied to many fields of event managing. Social media makes it simpler for attendees to share their feelings of an event, while event managers can receive feedback from attendees more efficiently. Thus, you can use social media as a feedback system for improving future events.

Besides this, social media marketing is a great way of advertising any event. With social media people around the globe can be easily reached, a task that would be impossible without it and the Internet. Attendees are also able to share the event with other people, creating an almost free advertising platform.

You can also use email marketing for event promotion. When email marketing is combined with marketing automation, you have the option of sending more personalized emails about the event to attendees.

 

Event management technologies can save time, money and efforts of event managers while enhancing the experience of attendees. Your work requires fewer efforts thus giving you time to focus on the core part of the event. These technologies can help with all aspects of event managing from managing the attendees time of arrival, their satisfaction levels to receiving proper feedback, so make sure to test at least some of them for your next event.

8 Golden Rules for Giving Positive & Productive Feedback at Work

Learn how to give meaningful, positive and productive feedback at workplace!

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The importance of positive feedback at workplace

According to Gallup’s research, giving an effective positive feedback at workplace leads to higher employee engagement, productivity, improved retention and greater profitability. Thus, every manager should learn how to give meaningful positive feedback.

When employees are given positive feedback regularly, they feel recognized and valued and are thus more engaged. Giving a positive, stand alone feedback to employees also helps building workplace relationships. As a result, your employees are more loyal and stay with your company longer.

Thus, every manager that wants to build and lead a successful team should learn how to give effective positive feedback to employees. If you become a pro at giving a positive feedback, you have to learn the proven techniques for giving positive feedback.

Tips for giving meaningful and productive positive feedback

Most people think that giving positive feedback is simple. However, simply saying “Nice job!” isn’t enough. If you want to give a meaningful, productive feedback that will reinforce positive behavior, follow these 8 golden rules:

1. Your feedback should be genuine

Give positive feedback to your employees when you have a concrete reason. Be direct and honest.

2. Your feedback should be timely

Make sure that your feedback is timely, given in-the moment. When you see it, praise it!

3. Your feedback should be specific

Avoid giving vague praise and say exactly what your employee did that you find commendable. Your feedback should be crystal clear and to the point.

4. Your feedback should be focused on effort

Focus on your employees’ effort and behavior (what they do) rather than on their personality traits or talent (what they’re like).

5. Frame your feedback in bigger context

Frame your employees’ accomplishments in a bigger context. Explain the impact of their achievement on others and link it to your company’s bottom line.

6. Use the appropriate body language

Make sure to smile, keep an eye contact and use appropriate facial expressions and hand gestures.

7. Amplify your feedback with a gesture

Go for a walk in the nearby park, grab a coffee or a box of candies and celebrate!

8. Personalize your feedback

Tailor your positive feedback to each of your employees. Some might enjoy being in the spotlight, while others prefer private, one-on-one praise.

Learn more on delivering positive feedback at work

If you’re looking for more great tips on delivering positive feedback at work, check out: 8 Examples of Giving Positive Feedback to Employees.

 

How to Use the Crafty Vaporizer?

Crafty Vaporizer is a remarkable achievement for mankind as it is one of the first portable vaporizers manufactured by a German Company, ‘Storz and Bickel.’ The company has spent a lot of time in developing this product. Its previous version of vaper, ‘Volcano’ was not as popular as this new vaporizer. In fact, Volcano is the only desktop vaporizer which was approved by the ACMPR or Access to Cannabis for Medical Purpose Regulation. Crafty uses a mix of hot air convection and conduction for remarkable results. It has a mouth piece which completely blocks any wastage of steam and you do not need to refill those vaporizers recurrent time. This entire machine can also be controlled using a mobile application. This speaks volume about the crafty vaporizer as it can be operated using technology.

What Comes in the Box?

The crafty vaporizer box has a lot of components within it. The vaporizer comes with several other things and thus, the box contains the following parts:

  1. The Crafty Vaporizer – 1
  2. Power Adapter – 1
  3. USB Cable – 1
  4. Liquid Pad – 1
  5. Screens – 3
  6. Cleaning Brush – 1
  7. Herb Miller or Grinder – 1
  8. Easy Filling Tool – 1
  9. Seal Rings – 1
  10. Instruction Manual – 1

How to Use the Crafty Vapour?

Using the vaporizer is simple and easy. When it arrives, you do not need to charge the device as it should be charged fully. Even if charging is required, all you need to do is connect the vaporizer with the plug point using the USB cable which arrived in the box. You can use the device without connecting it to the mobile application. But it is always suggested to download the app from iOS or Android store at free of cost and connect it with your vaporizer.

  • If you are using flowers as the herb, you need to grind it before putting it in to the machine. You can do that by using the grinder which comes in the box. As soon as you finish grinding, simply twist the upper part of the machine and you will find a chamber. Simply put the weed into the easy filling tool which resembles the letter O and fix it above the chamber using a screw.
  • Once you have finished doing this, open the cap that is in the middle of the tool and pour the grinded contents in to the chamber. After this, simply remove the easy filling tool from the device and now you can use your vaporizer.
  • If you want to use concentrates or hash, pour a few drops on to the liquid pad and put it inside the chamber. You should use the liquid pad when you are using less amount of cannabis which allows the heating process to be equal.

The crafty vaporiser comes with 2 different temperatures which are 180 degree Celsius and 195 degree Celsius. To arrive at 180 degree Celsius, you simply need to press the power button once and for 195 degree Celsius, two simultaneous clicks of the power button are necessary. Once the red colour of the device changes to green (which takes around 90 to 120 seconds) the device will vibrate which represents that the vaporizer is ready to use. Depending upon the strength of your inhalation, the device might take some time to re-establish itself back to the desired temperature.

Crafty Vaporizer is an expensive device which surely makes an investment. The battery life could be better and thus needs a little work on it. Overall, the product is a catch and the vapour quality surely beats the battery life and cost.

How Travel Gadget Helps In Trip Management

We are in the digital era, and modern gadgets can help to brighten your everyday experiences. Concerning tours and travel, there are several gadgets to make trip management more convenient. In this article, I look at some of the ways travel gadgets can help you to have a brighter trip.

  1. Use a Travel App on your Mobile Device to Check Flight Information

With a travel agent application downloaded to your tablet, you can conveniently check flight information. This allows you to choose the most convenient dates for your next vacation. Check out the airline details using your mobile gadget today. Discover the sky cheap airline tickets using a phone application.

  1. You Do Not Have to Ask for Directions When you Have a Travel Gadget

With a travel gadget, you have the directions at your palm. Therefore, you do not have to stop by every shopping center to ask how far you are to your destination. All you need is the name of the places you are visiting and a device with Google Maps installed. The application will even give you traffic updates and alternative routes to get you there faster and conveniently.

  1. A Portable Charger will Ensure Your Smart Devices Help in Trip Management

Carry a smart charger for your next vacation to make sure that your devices are fully charged. You do not want to experience a lack of power especially when you want to use your devices to connect with the travel agent. Therefore, a reliable travel charger or a portable power bank will be a good companion when traveling around the world. With the devices powered up, you can connect with booker hotel and ask for a room upgrade or hotel upgrade.

  1. A wireless Router to Keep you Connected

To effectively manage your trip, you definitely want to make sure that you are connected to your travel agent. Thus, in case you want a room upgrade or to change the flight to enjoy the next Aeromexico specials, you just use your tablet to livechat the booking agents. Never miss any updates that can help to brighten your travel experience on the next vacation. Use a Mi-Fi router to keep your devices connected. This gives you the convenience of sharing your exciting moments with the online community.

  1. Use a travel directory for journey plans

Smart devices support the installation of a travel directory that can help to plan your journey. Through supported applications, you can plan cheaper travel. For instance, if you have several places in your travel list, you can use the travel directory to find where these destinations are and plan the order in which to visit each one of them without missing wonderful experiences.

  1. Use Smart Devices to Discover Shared Recommendations

The amazing thing about technology is how people from across the universe can share reviews with friends and relatives. Thus, you can find out about a famous travel destination even without leaving your doorstep. This enables travelers to know which places to visit next when they are planning a trip.

Use a travel gadget for an amazing trip next time you are heading out for a vacation. You can find amazing travel devices online for a better experience.

10 Simple and Affordable Employee Appreciation Ideas

Check out 10 creative employee appreciation ideas your employees will love.

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Appreciate your employees – if you want to keep them

Did you know that one of the top reasons why employees leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated, according to Gallup’ research?

The message here is clear: If you want to keep your employees, you have to appreciate them! Employee recognition is the key to employee satisfaction.

Of course you appreciate your employees…but how often do you show it and recognize their hard work?

Gallup’s poll has found out that 65% of employees haven’t received any form of recognition for good work in the last year!

OK, so maybe you can’t afford expensive awards…but that isn’t an excuse for not showing your employees that you appreciate them! You don’t have to spend any money to recognize your employees and show them that you appreciate their hard work. Actually, according to Officevibe’s recent study, 82% of employees think it’s better to give someone praise than a gift.

Employee appreciation ideas

Here is a list of 10 great, inexpensive employee appreciation ideas your employees will love:

1. Surprise appreciation celebration

Organize a surprise party for your top performers! Include some cake, confetti and their favorite tunes.

2. Shout out on social media

Post a photo of your employees on social media and brag about their achievements. Don’t forget to tag them!

3. Newsletter

Feature you employees’ success stories in your company’s newsletter.

4. Congratulatory email

Send a company wide congratulatory email and praise your employees for a job well done.

5. Hidden praise

Hide a few notes of appreciation around your employees’ work area.

6. Handwritten note

Send your employees a handwritten note, or just leave a sticky note saying “Thank you” on their desk.

7. Thank you meeting

Call an employee to your office just to say thank you. Don’t discuss any other issue!

8. Ambassador opportunity

Offer your employees to represent your company at an event they typically would not attend.

9. Ask for their help or opinion

Show your employees how much you value their opinion and input.

10. Invitation to an executive meeting

Invite your top performer to join your executive team meeting.

 

Would You Make a Good Leader in Business?

Great individuals have won the minds and hearts of followers throughout history to achieve change, build businesses, empower communities and transform lives. They have led the way towards progress and forged beaming paths into the future. Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Eva Peron, to name a few, all led by example, motivating people along the way.   

  • So what is the driving force behind good leadership?
  • What makes a great leader?
  • And can you learn to become one?

Now let’s get some answers,

What does it take to be a good leader?

Leaders are often in a position of authority but their high post does not always necessarily prompt others to follow them or feel inspired. In other words, effective leadership is a product of many factors. A leader’s personal traits and qualities, as well as their learned behavior, attitude, and beliefs, is what makes them what they are.

Below, we’ll highlight the most distinct qualities and characteristics of a true leader. See if you could recognize some of these attributes, skills, and values in yourself.

What are the qualities of a good leader?

A leader’s qualities are often innate or inborn, despite that researchers have come to the conclusion that leadership is one-third born and two-thirds made. Here are seven natural features of a good leader, which are not impossible but harder to learn.

  • Empathy
    Without compassion for others, a person in a leadership role will quickly alienate themselves from the rest of their team. A great leader will not think twice to put themselves in other people’s shoes and act upon it. They are naturally emotionally intelligent individuals.
  • Sociability
    Great leaders are naturally drawn to people. They take a genuine interest in their followers’ lives, problems, and aspirations. Still, if you are a sworn introvert, you can still learn how to come out of your shell and slowly adopt this personal trait.
  • Passion
    Passionate about their cause, ideas or ventures, leaders believe in what they do. They put their heart and soul in every endeavor in order to succeed and bring everyone else together for the common good.
  • Innovation
    A leader’s inborn ability to experiment inspires them to seek and apply innovation. They are not afraid and will happily tread on an unbeaten path even if this means that they may have to overcome unforeseen obstacles along the way.
  • Humbleness
    People follow eagerly humble leaders who share their success with the team. Collaboration, partnership and productive exchange of ideas are empowered by the leader’s innate capacity for respecting others and appreciating their values.
  • Open-mindedness
    Bias is a foreign word to great leaders. They are open to new ideas, a difference of opinions and will always give you the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions. A quality that most people strive to learn and develop, it comes naturally to those who are successful at leading and motivating others.
  • Resourcefulness
    Although people are not naturally born confident and independent, leaders often show resourcefulness from a very young age. They are self-reliant, quick thinkers who will always find a way in times of uncertainty.

“The ability successfully communicate and build a serviceable raport is priceless”, says Andrew Girardin from EFL Academy, “Theoretical knowledge of how and why wording goes a long way to in the hands of a good leader,” he adds.

Strong characteristics of a good leader

A man’s character is usually associated with developed habits and behaviors. It implies a set of values and morals that determine how we behave with others and how we progress or approach situations in life. These eight characteristics of powerful leadership may come naturally to great visionaries, passionate humanitarians, successful politicians, adventurous explorers or decisive and innovative business owners but they can be also acquired through conscious self-development and determination by people like you.

  • Integrity
    True leaders are true to their words. They are fair, objective, authentic, genuine and trustworthy. Great leaders never lose sight of their moral compass.
  • Problem-solving skills
    A positive attitude towards finding solutions to any problem is a vital aspect of forward thinking. Effective leaders will try new things in a responsible manner. They will adapt and persevere until they come out victorious on the other side.
  • Willingness to learn
    The restlessness of their curious mind is what makes leaders never stop learning… From others, from experiences, from their own mistakes and failures, or from the miracle, called Life.
  • Ability to empower
    Great leaders guide, teach, motivate and inspire. They know how to bring the best out of their employees or followers by leading by example and by encouraging people to excel in what they are best at.
  • Think outside the box
    Unorthodox thinking has given birth to the greatest ideas of our time, despite being deemed a folly at first. Inventors, discoverers, and pioneers find solutions outside the box.
  • Courage
    Leaders need to be decisive doers when it matters the most. Sometimes, they don’t waste time on endless and unconstructive meetings, trying to convince their doubters. They act and take responsibility for their actions.
  • Communication skills
    Being able to listen, relay ideas and delegate responsibilities in a considerate and thoughtful way are all skills that an effective leader should possess.
  • Patience
    Staying on course through the good and bad times is crucial when it comes to achieving a greater goal. This doesn’t mean being inflexible but determined not to give up at the slightest hiccup.

How to be a great leader today?

Whether we talk about leadership in business, in the NGO sector, in politics or you are interested in how to be a good leader at the workplace, our understanding has shifted significantly from the conventional idea that leaders are defined by their role of being an authority figure. True leaders, today, are not simply people with power. They are partners, servants, visionaries, protectors, motivators, and influencers.

Examples of good leadership:

Of course, the examples of successful leadership in business and other areas of life are numerous to list in this article. Leading entrepreneurs from across the globe, nowadays, are driven by different values, in order to grow their business and inspire people.

For instance, Sir Richard Branson’s unconventional stance on success puts his employees always first, even ahead of his customers. Or there’s a lot we can learn from Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson and his constructive, transparent and empathic response to the company’s recent crisis.

Another advice of how to be a great leader in business is shared by Rune Sovndahl, CEO of Fantastic Services – a growing home services franchising company in Australia that has spread wings from the UK to Down Under and the USA. His unorthodox but all-embracing philosophy of 360 degrees happiness revolves around the idea of having, above all, respect for others, as well as around the strong belief in nurturing talent and doing whatever it takes to keep everyone satisfied.

Great leaders are bold to be different

According to Rosalinde Torres, an expert on leadership, effective leaders are not afraid of diversity. They find solutions, progress and learn from people that are different to them. She believes that only through connecting and communicating with those within your network who dare think differently to you, trust is gained and shared goals are achieved.

Great leaders serve

Great leaders lead from the front. But true leaders protect and serve their followers. They will never sacrifice people for their own gain.

Nelson Mandela’s famous words reverberate this notion:

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

Great leaders take a leap, not a step

Again, after years of practical research on successful leadership, Today’s leaders must be able to divert from tradition, leave their comfort zone and learn to anticipate change. They can only empower and inspire others by shaping the future, not reacting to it.

 

The Case for a More Human Approach to AI

Author: Chris Pope, VP Innovation, ServiceNow

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all about machines, obviously. Except it’s not. In truth, discussions surrounding AI may often centre around how competent, intuitive and contextually aware the machine brains we are building have become.

But really, AI is all about us―the humans—and how it can make our lives better.

There was a time, perhaps even inside the current decade, when AI tools and functions were still associated with the fanciful ‘talking computers’ that featured in many 1980s movies. It wasn’t that long ago that we considered AI as something of a ‘toy’ and its application in mission-critical enterprise applications was still somewhat laughable. Of course, now we take talking computers completely seriously. So much so that we’re equally focused on the proficiency of computer speech recognition.

 

Application of AI

But as far as we have come, we still need to look at the real world use cases of AI and ask how it can help us make our lives better. If we’re not applying AI to our human work experiences to examine and analyse where it can make those experiences greater, then what are we doing here in the first place?

The truth is, many enterprises large and small have been struggling with finding the appropriate use cases for new and emerging AI technologies. Companies need to find the workflows inside their business models that can benefit from AI. Only then can they start to architect towards turning those operational throughputs into truly digital workflows.

So how do we define AI-enabled digital workflow Nirvana and how do we get there?

Typically, the process starts with a technology audit and a process of assessment, quantification and qualification running throughout the IT stack in question. Individual business units will need to step back and identify their work problems and challenges as they look for the elements of their workflows that can be digitised.

Everybody across every line of business function will be involved―we need to crowdsource and collaborate to identify strategic areas of business operations that still exist as predominantly manual, accurately measurable and fundamentally repetitive.

These are the parts of business that represent liquid gold, i.e. once we tap the seam, we can channel these functions into AI-driven services that subsequently run as digital workflows. Individuals are liberated from drudgery, productivity is increased and employees have a greater experience—a new virtuous circle is established.

 

Practical examples

Think about a typical office. When people leave the company, we need to manage who has a key fob for access to the car park. This is a perfect example of the type of job that has typically been performed manually through the use of a spreadsheet. This is time consuming, error-prone and obviously creates security issues.

But it’s also (I hope obviously) a perfect example of the type of task we can evolve to become a digital workflow driven by intelligence stemming from AI. Our analytics engine should know that an employee is leaving the firm and so reports, alerts, emails and perhaps even mobile device management, to cancel the key fob, can all happen automatically.

If we can make all those things smarter and more intuitive, then we can build better experiences faster.

Uber hasn’t actually done anything fundamental to change the way taxis work or drive. It has changed the digital workflow that governs the ability to book and pay for the service. The list of services-centric examples in this space is growing every day.

 

Automating a bad process doesn’t make it good

In the technology industry, we are often bad when it comes to decommissioning things. Think about how many business processes probably exist today that firms need to eradicate and get rid of.

There’s no point in applying AI to these aspects of the business. As we know, automating a bad process doesn’t make it a good process; it just makes it an automated bad process! So, this re-engineering is actually an opportunity to clean out your cupboard and stop doing the things that you no longer need to do.

An example that came out of a recent hackathon, we conducted, is a tool to help with filing of patents. One of our hackathon teams used AI and ML to trawl the web for all registered patents using word recognition. They wanted to identify connected words to see if a new invention already existed in some form already. This would have been costly manual work, that may have been handed over to a specialist (in this case, a patent lawyer), but now we can digitise these aspects of the business.

 

The human factor baseline

We as humans now need to engineer the existence of AI into our own mindsets and consider how it can help us work differently. This includes knowing what things we don’t need to worry about anymore. For example, we don’t take a map out with us these days, because we use a smartphone—so what else can we stop doing?

As we move down the more humanised road to AI, we will find that AI itself gets smarter as it learns our behavioural patterns, penchants and preferences. We must still be able to apply an element of human judgement where and when we want to, but that’s already part of the current development process as we learn to apply AI in balance when and where it makes sense.

The future of AI is smarter, and it is also more human. The end result is more digital at the core, but more human on the surface. If that still sounds like a paradox, then it shouldn’t. We’re at a crucial point of fusion between people and machines and it’s going to be a great experience.

 

About the Author

Chris Pope - ServiceNow

As ServiceNow’s global VP of Innovation, Chris brings more than 15 years of C-level executive experience with leading technology solutions and platforms across Product Management and Strategy. Chris also has the rare, added-value, experience of having been a ServiceNow customer multiple times so he understands the client and the vendor perspectives on business transformation. Chris’ proven track record working at and with the largest organisations globally, has seen him recognised as a thought leader in process and methodology. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Electronic Engineering from De Montfort University in the UK, and is a well-published author and contributor to many leading digital publications and blogs.

Company culture: Lessons from Apple, Virgin and Airbnb

Learn valuable lessons on creating positive company culture from leading companies such as Apple, Virgin and Airbnb!

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Great company culture: The key to business success and growth

Great company culture is the secret behind the growth and success of the most successful companies in the world. Company culture is an incredibly important ingredient of the ‘successful business’ recipe.

Take companies such as Apple, Airbnb and Virgin for example. All of these companies are well aware of the importance of fostering a positive, encouraging company culture. They know that having a great company culture can help them attract and retain top talent and foster innovation which gives them a competitive advantage.

This is why they work hard to build and promote a winning company culture. What can we learn from these crazy successful companies and how they view and foster company culture?

Company culture lessons from Apple, Airbnb and Virgin

Here are some valuable lessons on fostering a positive, encouraging company culture from the successful companies such as Apple, Airbnb and Virgin:

Lesson #1: Why is a company culture so important?

“Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur.”

–  David Cummings, Co-Founder of Pardot

Lesson #2: How to build a great company culture?

“There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.”

– Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

Lesson #3: Company culture spreads from the top

“There is tremendous teamwork at the top of the company which filters down the teamwork through out of the company.”

– Steve Jobs, Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Apple

Lesson #4: Company culture is the key to innovation

“A company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation.”

– Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb

Lesson #5: Make sure you company culture is authentic

“In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.”

Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks

Lesson #6: Hire for cultural fit

“Shaping your culture is more than half done when you hire your team.”

– Jessica Herrin, Founder, Stella & Dot

Lesson #7: Never underestimate the power of company culture

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

– Peter Drucker, Management Guru

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